Economic system

Americans divided over security of economic system

A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the public is roughly evenly divided on whether the US economic system is safer today than it was then. About half of Americans (48%) say the system is safer today than it was before the 2008 crisis, while about as many (46%) say it is not. safer.

Opinions have changed since 2015 and 2013, when majorities said the economic system was no safer than it was before the crisis (63% in both years), according to the new survey, conducted from 18 September 24 with 1,754 adults.

Republicans are now much more likely to view the system as safer than they were during Barack Obama’s presidency. Three years ago, only 22% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the economic system was safer than before the crisis. Today, the share saying the same has risen 48 percentage points to 70%.

The views of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have moved in the opposite direction. Today, Democrats are less convinced the economy is safer than it was before the 2008 financial crisis: just one-third say the economy is safer, down 13 percentage points compared to 2015 (46%).

Republicans continue to be much more optimistic than Democrats about the economy

Meanwhile, public views on current economic conditions — and the trajectory of the U.S. economy over the next year — have changed little since March.

About half of Americans (51%) now rate the national economy as excellent or good, among the most positive measures in nearly two decades.

As has been the case since Donald Trump took office, Republicans are much more positive than Democrats about economic conditions: 73% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say economic conditions are excellent or good, while only 35% of Democrats and Democrats agree.

Partisan differences in opinions on personal finance are greater today than during Obama's presidency

Proponents are also divided in their expectations for the economy. Republicans (57%) are much more likely than Democrats (12%) to say they expect the national economy to improve next year. Partisan differences in views on the economy – current and future – are about as wide as they were in March.

Likewise, there have been few recent changes in Americans’ views of their own financial situation. About half (49%) say their finances are in excellent or good condition.

Partisan differences in people’s assessments of their personal finances, which were modest for most of Obama’s presidency, have grown since then.

A majority of Republicans (61%) say their personal financial situation is excellent or good, compared to about four in ten Democrats and Democrats (41%).

Most Americans remain optimistic about their personal financial future. Nearly seven in ten adults (68%) expect their financial situation to improve a little or a lot over the next year. Republicans (79%) more than Democrats (59%) are optimistic about improving their finances next year.

Note: See full results and methodology here (PDF).

Amina Dunn is a research analyst specializing in American politics and politics at the Pew Research Center.